Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Cosmic Evolution of the Subjective Horizon

The DeKoninck collection includes a previously unpublished book from 1936, entitled The Cosmos. You could say that this was an early attempt at One Cosmos Under God, only perhaps written by someone with a little more discretion. No one knows why he chose not to publish it. Well, too bad. He was posthumously overruled by his son, who has allowed it to to be published anyway.

Now, the first thing that strikes me about this book is how similar it is to what Teilhard de Chardin was attempting (not to mention Sri Aurobindo) at roughly the same time, but which did not see the light of day until after his death in 1955.

Although both men present a sweeping vision of cosmic evolution within a Catholic context, I would say that Teilhard was much more the ecstatic mystic, while DeKoninck is more the sober metaphysician (which provokes its own kind of ecstasy, or perhaps instasy). Scientistic nerds are unable to "get" Teilhard, being that they are so deaf to his more poetic, visionary, and noetic style. Nor, for that matter, would they be able to appreciate DeKoninck, since they are committed to a metaphysic that is so juvenile.

The Bible itself is also a closed book to these Vulgans, being that the typical Mister Crock tends to take the figurative as literal and literal as figurative. This is what happens when one is not anchored in the substance of truth itself, for it is truth that is being conveyed in scripture, whether literally or figuratively, it doesn't matter.

DeKoninck certainly had no problem whatsoever with evolution. The following sounds like it could have been written by Teilhard: "the physical universe... serves for a higher end that it approaches by losing its initial state of organization. The universe unpacks its matter with a view to higher construction. While the physicist observes in the physical world a greater and greater disorganization and diffusion, the biologist encounters living islands heading toward a more and more elevated organization, toward more intense concentration. Life seems to progress against the grain and at the expense of the current of degradation that carries the physical world toward extinction...."

The irony, of course, is that only a religious person is permitted to believe in evolution in its literal sense, which means to unfold, change, and develop in a certain direction. Make no mistake: in a godless universe, evolution would be strictly impossible. Rather, there could only be pure change, or absolute relativity. As you have no doubt noticed, no metaphysical Darwinians actually have the courage of their lack of convictions to see their first principles through to their grisly conclusion. Suffice it to say that anyone who believes otherwise hasn't thought things through. Just watch.

On the other side of that worthless coin are the occasionalists, who are much more Muslim than Christian, being that they have no idea how the Creator actually gets things done down here. Suffice it to say that while he may have counted all the hairs on your head, he doesn't have time to actually grow them for you.

Let's put it this way: to say "progress" is to say "God," for the very word implies a standard of truth, or beauty, or moral excellence, a standard which cannot exist in the absence of the absolute. Remove the absolute, then truly, nothing is any better or more true than anything else. This is a hierarchical cosmos. Deal with it.

Teilhard talked about "radial" vs. "tangential" energy, the latter being the entropic tendency of the cosmos, the former its negentropic tendency. The negentropic tendency has to do with information, complexification, linking, mind, and interior, while the entropic arrow implies the opposite. In fact, you could simply call them "mind and matter" (the latter in its Thomistic sense of prime matter, or pure unformed potential). In Hindu metaphysics these two categories are called purusha and prakriti, while in Coonspeak we unname them O and Ø or ♀ and ♂.

In turn, this fundamental complementarity of our cosmos is reflected in the irreducible categories of subject/object, form/substance, wave/particle, knower/known, individual/collective, part/whole, time/eternity, Lennon/McCartney, etc. The dynamic play of these complementarities is directional, and "evolution" is what we call the unfolding process that takes place in the space between them.

This is how and why a supposedly lifeless (we cannot say "dead") cosmos results in all this marvelous truth, beauty, complexity, and interiority. As DeKoninck writes, "the biological world shows us an always growing concentration. Its movement is centripetal, arriving at a state of high organization and immanence. Life goes against time's dispersion. Time disperses, life gathers, tending toward structures that are more and more tight. It is a kind of triumph over the scattering of time."

Indeed. "Life goes against time's dispersion." And I am the life. Nudge nudge, wink wink.

I also see parallels here with the philosopher of biology, Hans Jonas, and his ideas about the evolution of freedom, another property that is strictly impossible in the absence of God. If you disagree with me, please go away and think about it some more, because what you are really saying is that freedom is an illusion, so there is no need for us to take you seriously.

DeKoninck writes that "there is in living things an always growing spontaneity which in man arrives at true freedom... Every moment I use my freedom is something absolutely new in the universe. Thus one can say that the more a living being is free, the more he escapes the reach of experimental science." The merest act of free will makes us fugitives from the laws of physics. Higher non-doodling truly is the gateway to Slack.

Compare with Jonas:

"[I]t is in the dark stirrings of primeval organic substance that a principle of freedom shines forth for the first time within the vast necessity of the physical universe -- a principle foreign to suns, planets, and atoms.... the first appearance of this principle in its bare, elementary object-form signifies the break-through of being to the indefinite range of possibilities which hence stretches to the farthest reaches of subjective life, and as a whole stands under the sign of 'freedom'.... even the transition from inanimate to animate substance, the first feat of matter's organizing itself for life, was actuated by a tendency in the depth of being toward the very modes of freedom to which this transition opened the gate."

But already the simple observed facts sketch an image of nature which advances by successive explosions in the manner of a rocket... from the hands of its Creator [comes] the spiritual form of man to which nature has been destined and in which she is liberated. In this new order, evolution is pursued always in the very interior of humanity. Moreover, evolution which continues in humanity has taken on a different color.... We find ourselves from now on on a spiritual plane where plasticity is infinitely greater... --Charles DeKoninck

29 Comments:

Blogger Robin Starfish said...

But already the simple observed facts sketch an image of nature which advances by successive explosions in the manner of a rocket... from the hands of its Creator [comes] the spiritual form of man to which nature has been destined and in which she is liberated. In this new order, evolution is pursued always in the very interior of humanity. Moreover, evolution which continues in humanity has taken on a different color.... We find ourselves from now on on a spiritual plane where plasticity is infinitely greater... --Charles DeKoninck

O Ø ʘ ...a spark of life here, a catalyst there...I see!

2/25/2009 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Islam_vere said...

you said:

On the other side of that worthless coin are the occasionalists, who are much more Muslim than Christian, being that they have no idea how the Creator actually gets things done down here. Suffice it to say that while he may have counted all the hairs on your head, he doesn't have time to actually grow them for you.


At least for once you are clear. You happen to be clearly wrong, but clearly wrong is better than your usual, which is confusedly wrong, or even worse, being so confused as to be not even wrong.

You fail to take God seriously as God, as supreme and absolute. Everything that happens is God's doing. The idea that God would have a design, but that something could interfere with it, such as 'free will' is simply absurd.

You don't like some of what God does and so you assume a dualism where something other than God is making things happen. This isn't an intellectual virtue, it is lack of faith and a hubristic attempt to make up for some perceived Lack in God's doing.

2/25/2009 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Islam_vere, i whole-heartedly agree. two is Beloved and Lover, from them is one as Child. As that child I am not judged for as the adult that I am not; and as the adult I am yet seen as the immature me having matured as I. yet, I remain the child being seen, for they two begot my very self that came to know my self through them.
Faith stands on no reasoning beliefs yet to be proven. Nor does doubt cast shadow on Faith. Whether i see or not I am seen. ergo, i surrender all reason in light of faith. thus, i reason not to take it too serious, as have so many.

2/25/2009 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"The idea that God would have a design, but that something could interfere with it, such as 'free will' is simply absurd."

Ha. hahahaha. *giggle snork*

Just an observation; if there's no free will and everything is part of God's plan, then clearly everything that Bob says and does is in fact God acting through Bob. In which case, why in the world would you argue? You're actually disagreeing with with God. Everything is God's doing, including this.

(Sorry, feeding the troll, I know. I just couldn't resist. I'll stop now.)

2/25/2009 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous bob f. said...

Greetings to the 7th Century, Islam_vere, to the culture whose greatest acheivements in the last five hundred years has been prayer rugs and suicide bombers. I am impressed that you are able to string whole sentences together.
Islam_vere's words are remarkable, like a dog walking on its hind legs; you don't expect the dog to do it well, but you are pleased that it can do it at all.
But actually responding to his words would be like trying to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

2/25/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

No need to be apologetic about feeding the troll, Julie. We all know God made you do it.

2/25/2009 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Islam_vere said...

'Just an observation; if there's no free will and everything is part of God's plan, then clearly everything that Bob says and does is in fact God acting through Bob. In which case, why in the world would you argue? You're actually disagreeing with with God. Everything is God's doing, including this.'

Of course, but that argument provides its own answer, which is that whatever I am doing[questioning Bob's claims] is also God's doing, so that it is God questioning himself.

But actually it is not the case that God is acting through Bob, like some sort of spirit through a medium. There is a vast difference between the world obeying God totally and God acting through the world. So when one acts on or toward some thing or being one is not doing to God what one is doing to the thing. This is to assert identity where none exists.

Seeing that all is Submission to God does not require a practical ethos of any specific sort. Pointing out error is not Judgment, it is pedagogy. Pointing out that 2+2 doesn't equal five is not disagreeing with or Judging God.

2/25/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoist said...

"So when one acts on or toward some thing or being one is not doing to God..."

Ah, so you do believe in free will.

I was gonna offer you a petard, but I see you brought your own.

2/25/2009 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Only demons such as Bob have free will.

2/25/2009 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Mullah Ali Muhammed Habibi said...

Islam in a nutshell:

"You fail to take God seriously as God, as supreme and absolute. Everything that happens is God's doing. The idea that God would have a design, but that something could interfere with it, such as 'free will' is simply absurd."

2/25/2009 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

islam_vere - As a representative of the "religion of peace", would you defend the infidels' (our) right to think and speak as we will, or do you believe that we should have our heads separated from our necks for doing so? What would allah say? Or mohammed?

But seriously, isn't it really all about p-o-w-e-r?

2/25/2009 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

islam vere is just bracketdotdotdotbracket guy trying his sanctimonious shtick with a turban instead of a safron robe. He did such a good job looking silly at the Tao, that now he's going to try it with his forehead on the rug and his ass pointed at heaven. This posture suits him better, actually.

wv: refyin (I swear this thing is psychic)

JWM

2/25/2009 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Islam_vere said...

I've not said that I do or do not believe in 'Free Will'. I merely said that if it exists, it still doesn't counter that all things submit to God absolutely.

I suspect the phrase 'free will' is a confusion of language. Asking if I have free will is like asking what the color of December is?

If I am asked to affirm, merely because of the confued associations you have with the word 'Islam' if I support your right to speak without being killed then I ask the same of you?

Of course, I assume you do, as do I, as does anyone with the slightest intelligence.

What Muhammad would say about any of this is totally irrelevant. You confuse the principle of Islam with its world-historical manifestation.

2/25/2009 02:51:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"whatever I am doing[questioning Bob's claims] is also God's doing, so that it is God questioning himself"

Oh, I get it. It's like that scene in "Bananas" where Woody Allen interrogates himself on the stand.

2/25/2009 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

I once asked old Allah why he has so many laws, since his subjects don't have free will anyway. He sez, "I also put nipples on men. What's your point?"

There was a long, awkward silence, before he burst out laughing in the most maniacal way.

2/25/2009 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Islamo-Nazi said...

Islam_vere said...
I've not said that I do or do not believe in 'Free Will'.

All is not the will of Allah?

INFIDEL!

I KEEL YOU!

2/25/2009 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Petey, you just forced me to make the appalling choice between choking, spitting Vanilla Zero out my nose, or Bobtizing my new keyboard.

I'm still trying to figure out how I managed to do none of the above. Verily, it's a mirrorcle.

2/25/2009 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Achmed said...

Please do not put me back in the same suitcase!

2/25/2009 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

In the real world, not every choice is binary. Humans -- if they are organic computers -- are not digital but analog. We are not just deciding between options; we are constantly creating new options. God's will is not static any more than Fred and Ginger dancing together.

wv: If you don't reaphent you'll reap what you sow.

2/25/2009 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

"Scientistic nerds are unable to "get" Teilhard, being that they are so deaf to his more poetic, visionary, and noetic style."

I got Teilhard -- at least as much as I could given my relative paucity of brains -- way back when I was an undergrad. His ideas were eye-popping to me then, and to be exposed once again to them through OC means a lot.

Well coons, I haven't figureed out how to get off the bottle yet entirely (I gotta say, I'm working pretty hard at it).

My significant other is arriving here in Frankfurt to scoop me up and make sure I get back.

BTW, USS Ben - I ran into a young soldier and his wife out of Alabama. We talked at length, and I'm sure you can understand that the ideas expressed here resonate with a young man like that who has seen life and death first hand.

2/26/2009 02:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

Deeply flawed human beings, but this some great rock and roll:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oobDQ0vdm8M

wv: lusenit

(Seriousy, someone up there is sending me a not so subtle message)

2/26/2009 02:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

In the early morning rain
With a dollar in my hand
With an achin in my heart
And my pockets full of sand
Im a long way from home
And I miss my loved ones so
In the early morning rain
With no place to go
Out on runway number nine
Big seven-o-seven set to go
But Im stuck here in the grass
Where the cold wind blows
Now the liquor tasted good
And the women all were fast
Well there she goes my friend
Well shes rollin down at last

Hear the mighty engines roar
See the silver bird on high
Shes away and westward bound
Far above the clouds shell fly
Where the mornin rain dont fall
And the sun always shines
Shell be flyin oer my home
In about three hours time

This old airports got me down
Its no earthly good to me
cause Im stuck here on the ground
As cold and drunk as I can be
You cant jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So Id best be on my way
In the early morning rain
You cant jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So Id best be on my way
In the early morning rain.

-- Gordon Lightfoot

(neighbour in Rosedale when I'm Toronto)

2/26/2009 03:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

One of the great pieces of Art (I use the capital on purpose) in 100 years. Like Amy Winehouse (and a handful of others) thise was pure giving by the artist.

From everything I've read and heard, Hendrix had no pecuniary motive.

2/26/2009 03:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmmmmm...no disrespect to Bob's writings, which I enjoy very much. But, I must say, I am rather taken aback with the comments of the blogs. Although, I see some intelligence, for the most part it seems to be quite puerile at best. some of the most puerile commenters seem to be regulars. a discouraging thing indeed. I must question, that if one cannot understand Islamic peoples are just as any other people, then how on earth are you seeing what Bob offers in his writing. freedom of will doen't mean one does whatever the hell they wish to do. freedom practiced gives all freedom, or it isn't freedom at all. Often a good kook attracts the wrong kind of kooks. But it takes agood kook to see the nonsense of it and stay the heck out of it. Peace

2/26/2009 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I agree, Muslim peoples are just like anybody else. Okay, maybe a tad more genocidal.

2/26/2009 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Namaste to you, too, anonymous

2/26/2009 06:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes it would seem to be a tad more. However, it all boils down to ignorance - worldwide, and propaganda from every direction feeding ignorance.I ask you to watch two movies that depict the true nature of Islamist people, that nature just as human as any people. "The Visitor" and "Kite Runner". all 'genocidal" thought aside, can we not identify that even in America we have constructed a non-real entity, that while we dreamed it as real, it now implodes and collapses at our unsuspecting feet. Tent cities fill up with economic refugees around all major cities. this may not seem as an actual war by definition, but we often fail to see underlying violence causing unseen wounded casualties within our own in the battle for basic survival. we live, we learn, we forget only to live it and relearn all over again. this is our world having many cogs for which to recognize.

2/26/2009 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger jwm said...

However, it all boils down to ignorance -

A case in point.

JWM

2/26/2009 07:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, it all boils down to ignorance -

A case in point.

JWM

Well yes, of course I am a case in point. I am in no way suggesting that I do not possess a mighty shite load of ignorance. Peace

2/26/2009 08:56:00 AM  

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